Despite their name involuntarily adopting them into the family of crystal related bands (think Crystal Antlers/Fighters/Castles) it’s good to see Crystal Stilts pave their own way through 2011’s music scene with their unique style, not stopping to rest after the release of their second album this year.
Opening with ‘Dark Eyes,’ the EP starts well with a steady syncopation to lull the listener in, and whilst the seemingly lost voice in the darkness is soothing, it begins to become droning and repetitive three quarters of the way through. Not to be disheartened though, sticking with it, they make the smart move of opening up the ‘Radiant Door’ on their second aptly titled track. The promising chord progression is certainly radiant underneath the veil of nonchalance of Brad Hargett’s crooning, evident of the band’s clear grasp on the importance of the balanced juxtaposition between the two. Still As the Night,’ is anything but static, like a musical time machine, it conjures up imagery of a crowded house party and a room full of socially awkward teenagers who are too cool to dance, bobbing their heads while smoke from their cigarettes rises as fluidly as the music. Can’t you just picture it?
Unfortunately, while ‘Low Profile’ isn’t unpleasant to listen to as such, it’s just comparatively disappointing, almost like the soundtrack to the end of the aforementioned party and the throng of teenagers abandoning it in search of something a little more powerful. That said, you have to give them credit for the continuous balance of sulky vocals and optimistic synth, which seems to be the key ingredient to this EP. It seems as though ‘Frost Inside the Asylum’ marks the end of the evening, like a haunting lullaby, it ties the EP up with a catchy melody, a difficult feat to achieve with a slow song, yet Crystal Stilts’defy conventions of shoegaze-lo-fi post-punk-pop or whatever other combination of styles you want to apply to them, and the ‘Radiant Door’ EP is a testament to that.
]It’s almost indefinable genre highlights Crystal Stilts’ impeccable ability to draw inspiration from so many areas of music yet produce a completely original sound that would be almost impossible to recreate, (who would have ever anticipated the possibility of the sound of a sonic Johnny Cash & Joy Division collaboration?) is really what sets them apart and proves that the three year wait since their first album was definitely worth it.
By Bella Roach